West Bank Bedouin refugee appeals for recognition and protection

26 May 2011


New York

Mohammed al Korshan, representative of the Bedouin community in the West Bank, spoke on Tuesday 24 May at the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Al Korshan appealed to the international community for recognition and protection for his community as a displaced indigenous group living as refugees under occupation.

Al Korshan voiced his deep concern for the parallel collapse of his people‘s traditional livelihood and the distinctive tribal custom intrinsically linked to it, under the increasing pressure from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. He outlined the effects that the continuous threat of forced displacement has on his peoples‘ ability to exercise their basic human rights and also their rights as a tribal minority.

At the Forum, Mohammed al Korshan asked that, while a just and durable solution to the plight of Palestine refugees is pending, the Bedouin in the West Bank be recognised and protected, without discrimination, as a displaced indigenous group currently living under occupation. He asked that Bedouin be consulted and permitted to participate in policymaking that directly affects the exercise of their indigenous rights - including relocation and resettlement - and that measures be taken to secure their access to basic services and natural resources (especially water) in order to continue living their traditional tribal lifestyle/livelihood. He also asked for support in the creation of a Bedouin representative body with a view to achieving representation in the Palestinian legislative council.

Al Korshan‘s final request was that Professor James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, undertake a visit to the region in order to carry out a study on the human rights of Bedouin, with special focus on the refugee Bedouin group living under occupation in the West Bank.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.